This Week in Lincoln County – November 13, 2017

The busy days continue, but I want to take a quick moment to share a few things with everyone.

A few items of interest that the Commission has been working on are below.
• Last Thursday, I had the honor of speaking to a group of middle school students who were at the University of Missouri Extension Center for a leadership presentation. Also presenting were former Silex Superintendent Elaine Henderson and Larry Carter from Carter-Ricks Funeral Home. The students seemed to enjoy the program and were surprised to learn that all three of those of us who spoke had spent a significant portion of our younger years as shy and introverted. I spoke on the importance of planning in leadership and stressed the importance of lifelong learning. This was a great program that I hope continues.
• When you pick up the Journal this week, please take a look at page 13a. I have made the official announcement that I intend to run for a 3rd term when filing starts in 2018. It had gotten to the point that I seldom went out in public without someone questioning whether or not I was going to run, so after much consideration I made my decision. In the past 7 years, we have made a great deal of progress and undertaken a number of endeavors that I would like to see through to completion. First and foremost among these, is our paving program. As Lincoln County continues to grow, I am excited that we are poised to hard surface a significant number of roads in response to this growth. This mindset is what my mother refers to as “follow through.” I would consider it an honor to earn the opportunity to “follow through” on this and other projects.
• Budgets are coming together and we are wrangling with the complexities of health insurance premiums. Overall I am still confident that the final budget document will be solid. As I stated last week, if you have any questions regarding the budget, give me a call or shoot me an e-mail.
• On November 15, my proofreader, editor, and overall right arm will be having knee surgery, so I will be taking a short sabbatical from these updates, so please keep that in mind and keep Blanche in your prayers.

That’s all I have time for now. As always, call, e-mail or stop by the Courthouse if you have questions. Until next week…

Dan Colbert
Presiding Commissioner

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This Week in Lincoln County – November 6, 2017

As fall toys with the idea of turning into winter, there is a lot going on in Lincoln County.

A few items of interest that the Commission has been working on are below.
• If you have not met our Economic Development Director Larry Tucker and his assistant Julie Rodgers, you need to take the time to reach out and meet these key members of our team. You won’t see Larry’s picture on Facebook or on the cover of the LCJ, because as a consummate professional, he cares about getting the job done and not about the accolades. New buildings are being built, vacant spaces are being filled, and businesses that once considered leaving Lincoln County are not only staying but also expanding. While others might be busy on social media tooting their own horn, our Economic Development staff is moving on to the next project. The road to economic recovery has had turns to make and hills to climb, but we are on track to continue to make progress.
• Budgeting is in full swing in all County offices. This will be the 8th budget I have had the pleasure of helping to create, and while the budget process can get contentious at times, I enjoy being able to see the pieces come together in a single document. As I have mentioned in past columns, our reserve balances are strong, we carry no long-term debt, and we retire what little short-term debt we have early to minimize interest costs. I am currently up to my eyeballs in spreadsheets, but am more than happy to talk budgets if you have a question.
• Many of you may recall that, prior to the unprecedented floods of 2015, we had planned to implement a long-term program to convert gravel roads to hard surface. While the flooding postponed this endeavor, it afforded us an opportunity to bring our bridge inventory up to date. I am happy to say that we have rebounded nicely and will not only be able to continue to keep our bridges in shape and eliminate dangerous low water crossings, but we will also be moving forward with our plan to hard surface gravel roads on an even larger scale than we had originally planned. Stay tuned in 2018 as big thigs are going to happen!

That’s all I have time for now. As always, call, e-mail or stop by the Courthouse if you have questions. Until next week…

Dan Colbert
Presiding Commissioner

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Highway Department to Host Open House

Highway Department to Host Open House

The public is invited to an open house at the Lincoln County Highway Department on Saturday, November 4, 2017.  The facility will be open from 9:00-11:00 a.m. for citizens to tour and ask questions.

“We are looking forward to sharing the progress and growth that the highway department has experienced in 2017,” said highway department foreman Donnie Lilley.

Citizens will be able to look at the new equipment, the salt dome, and the brine-making system as well as tour the office and see a short demonstration of the asset management software that is currently being installed.

Assistant foreman Eric Tapley stated, “The crew is looking forward to meeting our citizens and explaining to them what the highway department does on a daily basis.”

Light refreshments will be served.

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This Week in Lincoln County – October 23, 23017

Just prior to writing this, I had to serve as referee in a dispute involving two 18 year old boys and a mountain of Halloween candy. Fortunately, the action was in good fun, and I came out of the deal with two mini Kit Kats and no bumps or bruises. By this time next year, both of my sons will be away at college, so I am enjoying every minute of their company while I have the opportunity.

A few items of interest that the Commission has been working on are below.
• In case you didn’t see it in this week’s Journal, mark your calendar for the open house at the county highway department on Saturday, November 4, 2017, from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. This will be an opportunity for the taxpayers of Lincoln County to tour the facility at 219 Highway H in Troy just north of Highway 47. Visitors will not only be able to see the equipment, but also visit with the people who operate it. I encourage everyone to come out and see the progressive strides that are being made in the operation. Taxpayers want accountability, and this is a golden opportunity to walk into the heart of one of our largest departments to see firsthand how your tax dollars are being spent.
• The Commission has begun to make some preliminary calculations for the 2018 budget. Budget time, in spite of the occasional disputes that accompany it, continues to be one of my favorite times of the year. As I prepare to participate in the budget process for the 8th time, I am hopeful that everyone can unite around the common goal of fiscal responsibility to craft another conservative financial plan.
• I was recently asked how the County can spend money held in reserve and still be considered fiscally responsible. Put very simply, we are not an investment firm tasked with accumulating huge amounts of cash. Rather, we are entrusted with tax dollars to provide as much of a particular service (roads for example) as we can while maintaining a healthy reserve balance. By design, we do try to save money in reserve for particular projects and draw them out for those projects. At no time do we take the reserve balances below what we consider to be a safe level. Even when we do make a “withdrawal” for a project, we historically keep our reserve balances at 1 ½ to 2 times our safety net.

That’s all I have time for now. As always, call, e-mail or stop by the Courthouse if you have questions. Until next week…

Dan Colbert
Presiding Commissioner

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This Week in Lincoln County – October 16, 2017

After a two-week hiatus for training and the Columbus Day holiday, I am back at the keyboard.

A few items of interest that the Commission has been working on are below.
• I am excited and humbled to announce that I have been chosen as one of the five new members of MoDOT’s Statewide LPA Advisory Committee. The 15-member Local Public Agency (LPA) Advisory Committee contributes to the development of policies, improves communication, and influences the direction of Missouri’s local program. MAP-21 (Federal Transportation Bill) directs that certain percentages of funding categories within the state’s apportionment must be sub-allocated towards the Off-System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program (BRO), the STP Urban Attribute Program, the Transportation Alternatives Program and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program. It will be an honor to represent the Northeast Region in this endeavor. Look for a press release in the Lincoln County Journal for additional information.
• The Division of Workforce Development and Missouri Job Center/ Boonslick Regional Planning Commission, along with Veterans Resources and Vocational Rehabilitation, have organized a job fair which will take place on Thursday, October 26, in Lincoln County. The job fair will run from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Fairgrounds Road in Troy, Missouri. If you know someone looking for a job, please let them know about this event.
• Contracts for 911 services have begun to trickle in leading up to the December 1, 2017, deadline. I am aware of a number of municipalities that are looking elsewhere in search of cheaper services. If you are a resident of a municipality, I encourage you to contact your alderman to make sure that, prior to voting on anything, they consider not only the financial aspect, but also the time lost on emergency calls due to the corresponding additional transfers that accompany de-centralized dispatch. Public safety needs to be everyone’s focus, and de-centralizing dispatch is not in the best interest of the people.

That’s all I have time for now. As always, call, e-mail or stop by the Courthouse if you have questions. Until next week…

Dan Colbert
Presiding Commissioner

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This Week in Lincoln County – September 25, 2017

After being relegated to the basement PC last week, I am back at my desk writing and listening to Merle Haggard perform “Are the Good Times Really Over.” There is a line in the song which asks the question, “Are we rollin’ downhill like a snowball headed for hell?” Based on what I see going on in this Country today, I think to a certain degree we are.

A few items of interest that the Commission has been working on are below.
• I’m sure when Merle Haggard performed the aforementioned song in 1981, he had no idea how prophetic his words would become. I was raised in a household in which, when confronted with a problem, you either found a way to fix it or you turned it over to the Lord. In the words of my Mother, “no bellyaching” was allowed. In spite of the things in this Country that do not coincide with my personal beliefs, I will continue to stand for the National Anthem out of respect for those who made the supreme sacrifice in defense of my right to have those beliefs. Beyond that, I am turning it over to the Lord.
• Last week the Commission had the pleasure of dining with the Troy Kiwanis Club at their monthly lunch meeting. Following the meal, I opened the floor to questions and enjoyed interacting with the membership. Even if you are not serving lunch, I am available to speak to groups about what is going on in the County. Call or e-mail me and we will set something up.
• I know I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but the weather remains favorable, and our road crews continue to make progress on a variety of projects. Between our forces and outside contractors, we plan to have the 2015 Flood damage behind us this year and are looking forward to getting back on track in 2018 as we continue to improve our roads and bridges.

That’s all I have time for now. As always, call, e-mail or stop by the Courthouse if you have questions. Until next week…

Dan Colbert
Presiding Commissioner

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This Week in Lincoln County – September 18, 2017

This week’s message is coming to you from my basement PC. Sharing computer usage with two, college-bound, high school seniors sometimes relegates Dad to the old PC with the screen not much larger than a sheet of notebook paper. With my reading glasses in hand, here goes.

A few items of interest that the Commission has been working on are below.
• If you travel Highway 61 between Troy and Wentzville, please take some time Wednesday September 20, 2017, between 4:30-6:00 to stop by the Troy 9th Grade Center in Moscow Mills to express your support for the improvements that are planned for this dangerous corridor. Among the improvements are guard cable from Wentzville to Troy and closure of several at-grade median crossings in that same area. Safety improvements often come at the expense of convenience, but I will gladly sacrifice a little more drive time if it will curb the accident rate in this area. Statistically speaking, installation of the guard cable and elimination of the crossings will make 61 a safer route the moment the work is complete. Many people have put a lot of effort into getting these projects to this point, and it will be a travesty if Lincoln County does not show up and vocally support these badly needed measures. The lives these measures save may be yours and that of your loved ones. Please join us.
• While it is easy to focus only on the attraction of new businesses, the retention and expansion of existing businesses are also crucial elements in Economic Development. We have received word from Economic Development Director Larry Tucker that we have had a success in each of these areas with the 27,000 square foot expansion at Brooks Brothers Trailers in the North Troy Industrial Park and the retention of Con-Tech Truss, which was contemplating a move elsewhere, but chose instead to build a new facility off Highway K near Briscoe. Both of these projects mean more, good jobs for the residents of the County. Nice work by Larry and his assistant Julie Rodgers.
• We continue to work on the 911 Dispatch issue. The Commission recently notified all entities of their Dispatch and Warrant Processing rates for next year. The County is again offering these services at a rate less than actual cost by crediting everyone with a portion of the 911 landline tax. These funds are intended to support 911 only, but using them to help fire/ambulance/police offset their Dispatch fees was the right decision to make to keep costs as low as possible.
That’s all I have time for now. As always, call, e-mail or stop by the Courthouse if you have questions. Until next week…

Dan Colbert
Presiding Commissioner

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This Week in Lincoln County – September 11, 2017

I vividly remember where I was when the September 11 attacks occurred. The shock and horror of that day should be indelibly etched in the minds of everyone. We can take pride in the fact that evil dealt our country a formidable blow, and while the Twin Towers are no longer standing, AMERICA IS!

A few items of interest that the Commission has been working on are below.
• We have received our independent auditor’s report for the 2016 Fiscal Year. The report is available at lcclerk.com under the Clerk’s Office tab. An audit is a good opportunity to learn and improve, and this year is no exception as the auditor noted a “significant deficiency” in the preparation of our Schedule of Expenditures of Federal Awards (SEFA) report. The procedures to rectify this deficiency have already been implemented, and I am confident that the situation is under control moving forward. Preparation of the SEFA report will continue to be a focus, as the County is aggressively pursuing, and receiving, grant funds from a variety of sources at unprecedented rates.
• The favorable weather has allowed our road crews to accomplish a great deal in the past weeks. As you move about the County you should notice the results of our efforts. Removing trees from blind corners (North Chantilly Rd.), cutting down dangerous hills (Sugar Grove Rd.), and replacing outdated culverts (Quarry Rd.) are just a few of the tasks upon which we are focused. As we look to expand our paved road inventory in the future, many of these seemingly minor changes are prerequisites to the paving process.
• Our thoughts and prayers are with the folks affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Compared to the damage we are seeing on the news, our flood damage from 2015 pales in comparison. We are two years removed from our disaster and still working to recover our funds from FEMA. In light of our experience and the recent revelation that FEMA is almost out of money, I am hopeful that we get what we are entitled to and that the hurricane victims are not left out in the cold. Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer and his staff have been extremely helpful in our efforts to sort out the bureaucratic maze of FEMA.

That’s all I have time for now. As always, call, e-mail or stop by the Courthouse if you have questions. Until next week…

Dan Colbert
Presiding Commissioner

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This Week in Lincoln County – August 28, 2017

Commission work, like any job, has its highs and lows. My philosophy is to focus on achieving positive results and letting that overpower the inevitable negativity. This serves me well for about 360 days of the year, with the other 5 being a source of minor frustration at various intervals. I must confess that I let the negativity win the day a couple times last week, but I am happy to report that a pleasant weekend has me back on top and focused on making positive things happen.

A few items of interest that the Commission has been working on are below.
• The Commission took action to keep the 911 Dispatch operations on firm financial footing. 2018 Dispatch rates for fire, ambulance, and municipal police were approved today based upon a budget of $1.3 million which is about $50,000 less than last year. The reduction was achieved through a little belt tightening and some debt reduction. Fortunately, none of the reductions are related to staffing. To the contrary, the 2018 budget includes the addition of two additional dispatchers over the course of the fiscal year. While a few entities will experience a significant rate increase, most will see only a minor increase, while others will see a reduction in expenses. At the end of the day, all entities will pay in proportion to services they use, which has been a goal for years. Dispatch requires a significant investment in both labor and equipment. This investment is further complicated by advances in technology, which requires frequent upgrades to equipment, often with a hefty price tag. We are moving in a positive direction, and I plan to build on that momentum.
• The Commission also voted to move forward on a trade of funds with St. Louis County within the Federal Bridge Program (BRO). Once this trade is complete, we will be in position to build 2-3 bridges using our program balances to do the projects with $0 of local cash required. Again, positive momentum on which we intend to capitalize.
• Property tax levies have been set, and, as expected, the rates have been rolled back due to the increased assessed valuation. General Revenue for 2017 is .1900 which is down from .2090, and Road and Bridge is .2421 which is down from .2657.

That’s all I have time for now. As always, call, e-mail or stop by the Courthouse if you have questions. Until next week…

Dan Colbert
Presiding Commissioner

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This Week in Lincoln County – August 21, 2017

Well, we survived the eclipse. I have not heard how other areas closer to the action fared, but I’m sure it was a welcome influx of tourism dollars.
A few items of interest that the Commission has been working on are below.
• On Thursday, August 24 at 6:30, the Warren County Republican Central Committee is hosting Sen. Bill Eigel (R-St. Charles) at Oliver’s Restaurant in Warrenton (289 W. Veterans Memorial Parkway) to answer the question, “Does Jefferson City Really Need More Money to Address Roads and Bridges in Missouri?” Sen. Eigel will no doubt talk about SB457 which he filed last session as an answer to the MODOT funding question. I will be attending with Commissioners from adjoining counties to express our strong opposition to SB457. This “solution” is really nothing more than an attempt by the State legislature to abdicate a portion of their responsibility for State roads by passing that responsibility to Counties. With this “solution,” Lincoln County would be called upon to maintain 77.89 miles of State lettered routes that are not eligible for Federal-aid money. This represents a 16% increase in our road inventory, and more importantly, a 52% increase in our paved road inventory. These figures do not account for bridges, culverts, and countless other structures. Contrary to Sen. Eigel’s claim that this measure would not create more taxes for the citizens of Missouri, it would only shift the burden of finding the solution to a STATE problem onto the shoulders of Counties. Keep in mind that Counties are already required to house State prisoners for little more than half the cost of the housing. How many more State issues do the folks in Jefferson City plan to dump on the County while they continue to engage in petty squabbles and fail to work for the people of Missouri? Kicking the can down the road is not a solution. I hope some of you will join us in Warrenton.
• 911 Dispatch was front-page news in the Journal this week. Unfortunately, the Journal has again failed to do any fact checking prior to running an article. Contrary to a statement attributed to a member of the Silex Board of Aldermen, the response time for their calls is not “45 minutes to an hour.” This is, in fact, a gross exaggeration. The average call response time, from the time of the call to the time of dispatch, has averaged 1.45 minutes over the last 3 years. I am saddened that our local paper so willingly prints disparaging remarks without verifying the validity of same.

That’s all I have time for now. As always, call, e-mail or stop by the Courthouse if you have questions. Until next week…

Dan Colbert
Presiding Commissioner

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